5 Best Encrypted Messaging Apps

Everyone is after your data. Government surveillance teams are scouting for it, carrier companies want to use it to market you to their advertisers, and cybercriminals will do anything to get their hands on your information. Even the company behind the app may be reading your messages, as was the case with Facebook Messenger, revealed in its own admission following the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

End-to-end encryption is one of the means you can use to secure your information and make it inaccessible to third parties. Basically, only the sender and recipient of the message can read it – while any third party intercepting it will just see a mass of jumbled data that doesn’t make sense. That way you won’t have to worry about surveillance, the messages being tampered with, the app provider snooping around your private inbox, or your service provider getting hacked and leaking out the sensitive information that is in the messages. Let’s look at the best encrypted messaging apps that you can use to protect yourself. 


This is an open-source software from Open Whisper Systems (OWS), which has seen widespread adoption from regular internet users to activists protesting out on streets. While your phone number is needed to create the Signal account, the rest of the information – including your profile picture and name, to the messages and video calls, are end-to-end encrypted. Signal Protocol actually powers popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, and the defunct Allo from Google. The conversations can also be set to self-destruct. 

What about those conversations which you’d like to keep? They remain on the device, but Signal itself doesn’t store the data. This means that you’re protected even when law enforcement agencies go knocking on OWS’ doors. The impact of this can be seen in instances like when a subpoena was issued to obtain information from the app, but the government could not get much. OWS complied with the directive, but since there was no message data stored, all that could be provided were the dates and times that accounts were created, and when they last connected to Signal’s servers. 

Additional features that make the app popular include the automatic face blur for the photos taken through the app – which has proved beneficial in protecting the privacy of protesters who are sharing visuals during demonstrations. Being an open-source software, the code can be independently inspected by anyone. 


With over 2 billion users around the world as of October 2020, WhatsApp is the undisputed king of messaging apps. Since 2016, it has fully implemented end-to-end encryption on the platform, securing the privacy of the users. Your chats are protected from prying government eyes and snooping third-parties. 

Even if WhatsApp were to be breached, the cybercriminals couldn’t read the conversations, thanks to the encryption, plus the fact that the messages are not stored on the app’s servers. Some security flaws are disconcerting though. For instance, if the WhatsApp servers are compromised by sophisticated hackers, or the staff themselves coerced by law enforcement agencies, they can easily add new people into a private group chat. This uninvited member can then access any new messages posted there.


Unlike other apps on this list, Telegram’s messages are not end-to-end encrypted by default. Instead, the default encryption is between the cloud server and user. This cloud model enables you to seamlessly sync chats on different devices, but since Telegram has the encryption key, it can read the messages stored on the servers.

However, you can get the end-to-end encryption by using the “Secret Chats” feature. Here are more reasons why this feature stands out: 

  • Message forwarding is disabled. 
  • Once you delete messages on your end, the party on the other end gets ordered to delete them too. 
  • You can set a specific time after which the messages (including videos, photos and files) will self-destruct after the recipient opens or reads them. 
  • Chats are device-specific, and can only be accessed from the device of origin. They aren’t part of the Telegram Cloud. 

You can turn on the “Secret Chats” feature from Telegram’s advanced settings. Once enabled, the chats won’t leave any data on the app’s servers.

Note that Telegram will need basic information like your phone number for you to use the app. You can protect yourself from unauthorised access by enabling 2FA (two-factor authentication). The code is open-source as well.


Both individual and group chats have been encrypted by default on this cross-platform messaging app, and this extends to voice and video chats. You can also set the chats to self-destruct. This Luxembourg-based app uses similar encryption methods to Signal, but the code is private.

Chats also have colour-coded padlocks to show the encryption and trust level: 

  • Green indicates that you’re connected to a contact you trust, and the chat is encrypted; 
  • Grey shows that the contact isn’t marked as trusted, though the chat is still encrypted; 
  • Red indicates that there is a problem with the authentication key of the contact, like when they are using a different device, or there is a man-in-the-middle attack where a third party tries to access the data.

It’s a nifty feature that adds to the security of the conversations. 

Additional features, from playing games to following public accounts, are key drivers behind the popularity of the app, which clocked 1.17 billion users worldwide by March 2020, according to Statista. Note that Viber stores the metadata – basic information about activity on the app, such as the time and identity of the persons who were communicating. Registration information, including the email and phone number are also stored.


While the other apps on this list are free, Threema comes at a $2.99 cost. But on the other hand, it doesn’t require your phone number or email to register an account. You get a unique Threema ID, which is particularly beneficial in keeping you anonymous. 

With this open-source and end-to-end encrypted messaging app, you get to protect your voice calls, files, group chats, all through to the status messages. Once you send a message from the app and it’s delivered to the recipient, it is deleted immediately from the app’s Switzerland-based servers.

You could choose to link your email address and/or phone number to the ThreemaID (it’s optional). In this case, only the only checksum values (HMAC-SHA256 hash) of the number or email are sent to the server. Note that a brute force attack can be used to determine the phone number that’s associated with a particular checksum due to the few digit combinations required. You can remove the phone number or address any time you choose.

Final thoughts

The 5 apps on this list are available for both Android and Apple devices. The messages are encrypted across the different platforms and devices. Note that for the apps that allow messages to be backed up to the cloud, the encryption keys will be controlled by the app providers, which will create a security loophole, since the messages could be retrieved were the server or cloud provider hacked or subpoenaed.

An additional app worth mentioning is Apple’s iMessage, but this only offers the end-to-end encryption between iMessage users. Messages that are sent to non-Apple devices are not protected by the encryption. Another app that’s steadily growing its userbase is Wickr. It comes with the default end-to-end encryption, self-destructing messages, and even screenshot detection that notifies the other participant in the conversation that a screenshot has been taken. The Android version of Wickr goes further to disable the screenshots altogether.

How To Check If Someone Is Spying On Your Phone

Is someone tracking my phone? The thought can be unnerving, but unfortunately quite possible with the wide range of spyware apps available today. Worried about someone anonymous having access to all that personal data in your phone? Feel as though Big Brother is watching? Or perhaps you’re worried that you may have inadvertently installed spyware on your phone as you were carrying out your normal browsing. Phones are basically a one-stop-shop for all our personal lives. The text messages held on them, call logs, emails sent out, voicemails, photos – from those snapped out in the park and events, to those of your private intimate moments, videos of your loved ones, your browsing history and social media profiles – that’s a whole lot of data that you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.

The Lure Of Your Personal Data

So why should someone be interested in spying on you? Well, there are different reasons. Perhaps the position you hold in your business makes you a target for people interested in data about the company operations. It can be a private matter, such as a spouse looking to unravel a potential affair. Alternatively, your wealth may draw unscrupulous individuals who want to hack their way into your checking account. There are those whose jobs increase their risks of being targets of spyware – like journalists, government workers, activists, judges and even scientists. When it comes to phone spying, having a strong password is not enough to protect you. There are lots of apps that can be monitoring your phone activity without you noticing. Let’s delve into the different ways that you can tell if there is someone spying on your phone.

Signs To Watch Out For

Spike in data usage

Have you noticed a sudden surge in the amount of data that your device is using – and yet you know that your own phone habits have not changed? Then there is a likelihood that additional software has been installed on the device, which can be spyware. This is typically seen with the spyware apps that are of a low quality, which tend to used loads of data to send the information that they have picked up form your phone. The high quality software apps on the other hand have been developed to used less data, so this step won’t be of much use here. So read on to other signs that you will notice.

Sudden decrease in battery life

Sure, batteries gradually weaken over time. This, coupled with the numerous apps you’re constantly using, means that the rate of the battery getting depleted will slowly increase. However, when you notice sudden drops in battery life, then this is a red flag. Either the device is actually faulty, or there is unwanted software running in the phone that’s consuming loads of resources while it works in the background.

Phone is acting up while in standby mode.

When the phone is in standby mode, common actions that trigger activity include incoming calls and messages, plus the standard notifications. If you notice that the phone screen is randomly lighting up, or there are sudden unexplained noises, then it means that something is not quite right under the hood.

Random reboots

If the phone keeps rebooting without any clear reason, then it could point to someone else having remote access to the device. This is particularly disconcerting because if one has such access and control such that they can remotely reboot your phone, then getting to the data itself will be far much easier. Don’t lose your wits over this one though. It’s a common feature with buggy phones. However, coupled with the other signs on this list, then you should be more cautious.

Unexplained surge in battery temperature

Activities like playing games or heavy usage will definitely increase temperature. This also happens when the phone is charging, and is expected. However, if you notice that the phone gets hotter when lightly using it, or even when it is idle, then could point to tracking software sending data to another location.

Weird noise when calling

Occasionally, you may find yourself in a location with bad reception, in which case you don’t have to worry about this. However, if you keep hearing a beeping sound, white noise, or echoes when calling, it could indicate the presence of spyware on the app.

Delays or difficulty in shutting down the device

When shutting down the phone, it first closes the active applications before going completely off. This also means cancelling any data transmission from the device. If the phone is taking longer than usual for the shutdown especially after you’ve only been using it for light tasks like calling and texting, then there could be an active app that’s simultaneously running in the background, recording and transmitting data. There are cases where the phone actually doesn’t seem to completely shut down to the black screen. This indicates that the device has been compromised. Here, the backlight doesn’t switch off due to the spy software that’s in the background, which is stopping the device from shutting down.

Dealing With Spy Software On Phones

So, what can you do if you suspect there to be spyware in your phone? Let’s break this down into two:

Android Users

First, try and locate the app manually. Navigate to the “Application Management” options in the settings:
  • Open Settings
  • Go to “Additional Settings”
  • Tap “Application Management”
Go through the list of apps, looking for suspicious names. Remember that the developers of the spyware will try to keep things “normal”, to prevent their app from standing out. Just check for unusual apps – especially those that you don’t remember installing.
  • Blocking unverified apps
This is a prevention measure, and can be quickly done by toggling the security settings.
  • Open settings
  • Go to “Additional Settings”
  • Select “Safety and Privacy”
  • Uncheck “Unknown sources” option.
This will prevent apps that are not in Google’s PlayStore from being installed.
  • Check which apps have access to the camera and microphone
These are the tools that can collect huge loads of data. You want to determine which apps have permission to use the camera and microphone. Toggle the access off for apps that you are suspicious of. Note that this does not mean that the apps themselves are malicious. Ask yourself if you use the app to record videos, take pictures or post them online. Do you actually use them to listen to playback audio? If no, then deny the app access.
  • Open settings
  • Go to “Apps and Notifications”
  • Select “Advanced”
  • Click “Permission Manager”
Here you will be able to review different permissions, from access to call logs, to the camera and microphone. Once in the preferred category, click on the apps to switch between “Allow” and “Deny”.
  • Install antivirus software
In addition to sticking to verified apps from Google PlayStore, installing an anti-virus app will give you an extra layer of protection from malware, spyware and other apps that pose a risk to your phone. There are plenty of antivirus software suited to phones, such as Avast Mobile.

iPhone Users

Monitoring the iPhone is pretty hard unless one jailbreaks the phone. Jailbreaking removes the manufacturer restrictions, allowing spyware apps to be installed. Is my iPhone Jailbroken? Are you concerned that someone has bypassed the iOS device security and is installing unwanted apps? One of the ways that you can check this out is looking for the “Cydia” app. It enables one to install software into the jailbroken devices. If you find the app in your iPhone, then that’s a pointer to it already having unwanted software. mSpy – A useful tool that can also be used wrongly This is one of the legal applications in App Store, and it will work on non-jailbroken iPhones. It’s marketed to parents monitoring their kids. However, this does not mean that a business rival, suspicious spouse, or employer cannot install it on your device. They simply need to get access to your iCloud account’s password. Simply changing the password will stop this. Tracking camera and microphone usage The latest privacy features with iPhones operating system monitor the usage of the camera and microphone. For instance, the “recording indicator” feature with the iOS 14 update lets you know whenever any of the apps, including those in the background, are using the camera or microphone. A little orange dot will show up next to the Wi-Fi and cellular data icons. Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep your eyes peeled onto the top right corner of the phone to check if there’s that glowing orange dot. From the Control Centre, you will be able to see which apps in the phone have recently used the microphone or camera. Changing camera and microphone permission settings To do this:
  • Open “Settings”
  • Select “Privacy”
  • Click Camera or Microphone as needed.
You can also go through the app’s privacy policy to determine if the app developer uses the data collected through the camera and microphone. Remember the TikTok backlash? The app was heavily criticised for collecting loads of data, though to be fair the app had actually listed the data collection policies clearly in its privacy notice – you know, those terms that you agree to without reading? Taking some time to go over them can be an eye-opener.

Factory Reset: When All Else Fails

The sure way of ensuring that the spyware is gone without spending much time or energy, is to simply wipe it clean and get a fresh start. The factory data reset will restore the phone to the condition it was when it was first turned on – which you should also do when you get a new phone. Since this route will actually delete everything, you should first backup your important files. – For Android users, this can be found under: Settings> Additional Settings> Backup and reset> Factory Data Reset Here you can choose between erasing all app data and apps, and keep saved data like phones and music; or chose to remove all the phone’s contents entirely. – For iPhone users: Settings> General> Reset> Reset All Settings You can also use iTunes to reset the phone. Simply connect the device to your PC, open iTunes, and select the “Restore iPhone” option.

Update Your Operating System

Spy apps rely on being compatible with the device’s OS to be able to function. Both Google and Apple are heavily invested in rooting out threats to the Android and iOS systems respectively to protect their users – which includes fixing any loopholes that the spy app may have taken advantage of. As such, when you update the phone OS, the spy software may malfunction, thus getting rid of the threat. It’s also strongly recommended that you don’t root your Android device or jailbreak your iPhone. This opens the door for malware to be installed on your phone.

Physical interventions

This is for those who still feel anxious about the camera spontaneously turning on. Physically blocking the hardware until you’re ready to use them will come in handy. For instance, a vinyl sticker can be used to cover the phone’s camera. These are simply peeled off as needed. Emphasis is on vinyl stickers since the regular stickers will leave a sticky residue behind on the camera. You can also opt for hard shell covers that come with sliding mechanisms that cover the camera. For the microphone, there are blockers available which typically use a 3.5-millimetre headphone jack that blocks the port. This will need to be pulled out whenever you want to use the microphone. Remember to secure your phone. It is a personal item, and you shouldn’t allow just anyone to go around snooping in it. Keeping your phone with you, using protectors like the password, fingerprint or pin security will limit the access to your phone’s contents.

How to Use Tor Browser

We live in the era of the data gold rush. Governments tracking your movements, corporations keeping a tab on your digital footprints to give you targeted ads, desktop programs and smartphone apps using clauses in user license agreements to record and sell data like your browsing habits and shopping preferences—no one likes that feeling of constantly being watched. While common forms of private web browsing like using Chrome’s Incognito mode, or Microsoft Edge’s InPrivate mode will prevent others who use the PC or smartphone from going through your browsing history, their degree of “privacy” is limited. You’re not really anonymous, since your ISP can still monitor the sites you visit. The Tor Project comes in for complete anonymity. 

Short for “The Onion Router”, Tor has been developed to keep you anonymous while browsing, ensuring that your location and identity are always private, and that there won’t be any tracks of your online activities. This software was initially developed in the 90s by the United States Naval Research Lab to cloak their activities and ensure that they wouldn’t be traced back to them.  It uses an onion-like layering technique—hence the name, concealing information on location and user activity. While it has its roots in military use, it is now free and open-source, and used all over the world—from fostering democracy and dissemination of information within authoritarian states, to the average internet Joe simply looking to surf the web without feeling that they are under a microscope.  Here is how you can use it:

Installing Tor Browser

  1. Head on over to Tor Project and download the software version that suits your operating system. 
  2. Run the installer, and once it’s complete click “Finish” to launch it. 
  3. A settings dialog will pop up, with settings to connect to the Tor network. Simply click the “Connect” button. However, if you’re connecting to the internet via proxy, click the “Configure” button and key in the settings.
Tor Browser - Connect

For the initial connection, the program may take several minutes—and it warns of this, since it is making the connection through relays. However, after this is done, the Tor browser launches, ready to be used.

Tor - establish connection
Tor - establish connection

If you’ve surfed with Mozilla Firefox, then you’ll find Tor to be familiar, since they are based on the same code. You don’t have to have used Firefox before to get a hang of Tor though. There are similarities to Chrome, Microsoft Edge and Safari, so you will get used to it really quickly. 

Tor - explore privately

Setting the security levels

With the default security settings, they are set to “Standard”. This alone is still far more secure compared to the conventional web browsers. However, you can increase this further, selecting the preferred security level—but keep in mind that some functionalities on the sites you visit will be disrupted.

Tor-Security Privacy Settings

The goal here to achieve a balance between the desired level of privacy, security and web usability.

Understanding How Tor Works

How does Tor work to keep your connection private and anonymous? It avoids direct connection to websites. Instead, the connection gets passed through multiple nodes on the network. These nodes are servers operated by volunteers. As it bounces around the different nodes, these intermediaries won’t know the source of the connection (you) or the target destination (the website you visit). This makes it impossible for the website to determine who you are and track you. For example:


Here’s what happens: The data leaving your computer or smartphone is encrypted, then sent into the Tor network. As it passes each individual node, a layer of encryption gets removed, revealing the location of the next node. When it gets to the last exit node, the final encryption later is removed, for the data to be sent to its destination. The path is randomly generated, the relays do not keep records, and each node just decrypts enough information to know the previous and next node on the path. This mode of operation will be why you’ll notice the slightly lower surfing speed when using Tor compared to other browsers. However, on a good internet connection, the difference in site loading speeds will be minimal. 

In case the performance gets unusually slow, or pages become unresponsive, you can launch a new Tor circuit. This option is on the drop-down menu, shown below:

Tor - Explore Privately

The “New Tor Circuit for this Site” option only applies for that active tab. You may want to go the extra set of acquiring a whole new identity, and that option is also available. Note that selecting this closes and restarts Tor, in order to give you a new IP address and set up a different connection.

Changing your modus operandi

There are some surfing activities that you’re probably used to, which you should change when using Tor browser. These include:

  • Using Google or Bing to make your searches online. It’s recommended that you switch to privacy-focused search engines like DuckDuckGo. 
  • Browser extensions are ill-advised. These can leak out your private information—beating the purpose of using this mode of browsing in the first place. As such, you should avoid installing them.
  • As you browse through the different sites, popups may show up, giving you different warnings- especially when there are items on that site that can be potentially used to track you. These popups will depend on the privacy settings you selected, and the sites you visit. 
  • You should also ensure that you use the HTTPS version of sites, rather than the less secure HTTP. Don’t fret—you don’t have to keep remembering this. Tor Browser by default automatically tries to direct you to the HTTPS version of the site being visited if it is available. Keep your eye on the URL bar just in case. 
  • If you’re keen on staying anonymous, it is recommended that you turn off the plugins and scripts. This is because, just as is with any other browser, plugins and scripts can be exploited to reveal data like your IP address. 
  • Torrenting is also discouraged on Tor. The torrent traffic is not protected, and this can be used to reveal your IP address. It will also be slower, given the number of relays that the data is passed through.
  • Visiting .onion sites gives you more privacy. These are the “deep web” or “hidden Tor services”, which can’t actually be accessed by search engines. You’ll need to get the direct links to them. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It’s not like you’re walking around with a list of preferred sites, and you don’t always know the particular onion site which has what you need. Onion directories come in to help you out.
Tor - OnionDir

Crank things up a notch with a VPN

Surfing the net with a Tor browser also draws attention to you. While the ISP cannot exactly know what you’re doing, it can still see that you’ve been connected to the Tor network, thus raising suspicion about your activities. Using it together with a VPN maximizes your privacy. Here, three things will happen when you connect to your VPN before launching the Tor browser:

  • No Tor relay/node sees your IP address
  • The VPN doesn’t see your activity in the Tor browser
  • Network operators won’t know you’re using Tor

Cryptocurrency 101: What it is, and The Risks it Bears

Cryptocurrencies are a new asset class that has been all the rage, drawing enthusiasts and sceptics alike. Traded on black markets and mainstream exchanges, their scope is wide. They became a speculative tool that has given some overnight riches, and driven others into massive debt. Some governments have attempted to draw up legislation to regulate it, while others have cracked down on its proponents. It’s the Wild West of the investment world. Here is a breakdown about what cryptocurrency is, and the risks to watch out for.

First, the Basics: Breaking Down What Cryptocurrency Is

You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin by now. It was the first cryptocurrency, and its success has spawned over 5,000 other variations, each with their target purposes, metrics and demerits. More keep popping up every other day. 

Cryptocurrency by nature is a digital payment system. However, unlike the conventional modes that you’re used to that involve banks, this system relies on cryptography and peer-to-peer transactions that allow anyone on the planet to send and receive payments. It got its name because of the encryption that is used to verify transactions. The payments made are digital entries on an online database called a blockchain, that keeps a record of all transactions to have ever been made for that particular cryptocurrency. This blockchain is basically a public ledger. The nature of these operations gives the cryptocurrencies specific characteristics, including:

  • Anonymity

The accounts and transactions on the blockchain are not tied to real-world identities. However, the level of anonymity varies. For instance, transacting with Bitcoin is like an author writing under a pseudonym—and if anyone ever links the pseudonym to the author’s identity, then every transaction can then be linked to the person involved. On the other hand, with cryptocurrencies like Monero, transactions are far much more difficult to trace due to the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses which are primarily used to give the users privacy, even concealing the transaction amount.

  • Portability

Being digital assets, they are easy to move around. The cryptocurrency is stored in a digital wallet, from desktop and mobile apps, to hardware and paper wallets. They are the equivalent of your bank account, allowing you to receive, track and send the coins. The wallets contain the private keys, which are secret codes allowing you to spend the coins. Technically, the coins themselves don’t need to be stored, but instead it’s the private keys giving you access to the cryptocurrency. So basically, the wallet is an app that manages the private keys.

  • Fungibility

The crypto assets of the same type can be interchanged with each other, with equal value between them. i.e. 1 Bitcoin = 1 Bitcoin, in the same way as 1 dollar = 1 dollar. This enables the cryptocurrencies to be used as a medium of exchange. 

  • Secure

Cryptography is powerful, all thanks to the magic of big numbers. The blockchain that a cryptocurrency runs on uses volunteers around the world, working together to encrypt the transactions. The users are assigned private keys, which allows the owner access to the cryptocurrency. The key is a long 256-bit string of random numbers and letters jumbled together. This is paired with a public address where the user can receive crypto payments from others. The public key is 256 bits as well, and the wallet address is 160 bits long. We’ll delve more into this later.

  • Irreversible

You know how you can issue a chargeback on your credit card and have the funds restored to your bank account? That can’t happen with cryptocurrencies. Once you make your transaction, there is no turning back. You cannot go and demand for your money to be restored, and no government or regulatory can force a transaction to be reversed. 

Cryptocurrency Risks: Key Issues To Watch Out For
  • Loss of confidence

This presents a critical business risk. The worth of a particular cryptocurrency is determined by the value placed on it by market participants through the transactions made— a “willing buyer/willing seller” scenario. Unlike ordinary (fiat) currencies, they are not backed by any central bank. They are also not pegged to an underlying asset like gold or commodity, and neither do they come bearing seals of approval from national and international organisations. Loss of confidence—perhaps due to reports of fraud or systemic risks discovered in the particular blockchain may result in a collapse of the cryptocurrency’s trading activities, and a consequent drop in value. 

An event that swept through the crypto industry was the crash of the BitConnect Coin (BCC), which dove by a staggering 97%, from its highs of $322 to lows of $6.09 in less than a day after the company behind it closed its lending and exchange company. The firm, which operated like the typical run-of-the-mill Ponzi scheme, had received cease and desist letters from the Texas State Securities Board and the North Carolina Secretary of State Securities Division, which led to it shutting down operations. These actions led to individuals taking monumental hits and families losing their life savings. The exit scam saw an estimated loss of around $250 million.

  • Fraud

The cryptocurrency sphere is fraught with fraud. Criminal activity targeting individual users and entire exchanges are an everyday phenomenon. Hackers gaining access into crypto exchanges and draining user wallets, cases of personal computers being infected with malware to steal an individual’s cryptocurrency- reports are all around. Spoofing and phishing attacks are prevalent, bringing about the need to exercise more care when it comes to personal computer security systems. 

Take the events that happened to one Eric Savics for instance. On June 12th, the Protocol Podcast host tweeted about how he lost his entire Bitcoin savings that had been accumulated over the course of 7 years. This was after he downloaded an imposter KeepKey app from the Google Chrome store and entered the seed phrase wallet. At the time of the loss, he had 12 bitcoin, worth over $110,000.

Cryptocurrency trading typically involves unregulated companies, many of which may have not implemented proper internal controls to protect the users—making them more susceptible to cyber-attacks compared to the regulated financial institutions. In 2019 alone, a record 12 exchanges were hacked, and $292,665,886 worth of cryptocurrency stolen, in addition to over 500,000 user logins. Even Binance, the world’s largest exchange by volume, fell victim to this, losing over 7,000 bitcoins after the hackers took advantage of a vulnerability in its hot wallet to obtain user API keys, 2FA codes and other bits the customers’ KYC data, which included photo IDs of 10,000 Binance users. The exchange shut its deposit and withdrawal services over a week as it beefed up its security protocols.

While the irreversible nature of cryptocurrency transactions is a strength, during cases of fraud it presents a huge operational risk. There won’t be an oversight body that you can call or email to reverse the transaction. Recover of stolen cryptocurrencies is difficult. When the private keys to a wallet are fraudulently obtained and the funds transferred, then the whole amount is considered to be forever lost to the owner.

Due to the large number of high-value crypto heists being witnessed, wealthy cryptocurrency investors are going to great lengths to secure their stash, including using cold storage devices that are housed in vaults and bunkers. Yes, not every cryptocurrency investor will be in a position to afford this level of security, but there are still steps they can take at a personal level to secure their private keys and ward off cyber threats.

  • Plain forgetfulness and human error

Having your cryptocurrency and lacking access to it because of blunders like spilling coffee on your hard disk and damaging it can be frustrating. Sometimes the risk is simple password amnesia. Forgetting where you stored your private key, or the pin unlocking that file you had jotted it down on—they can all result in the total loss of your cryptocurrency hoard. Well, there are some fortunate cases, such as 50 Cent who made some album sales back in 2014 that were paid in bitcoin—which he forgot, only to remember it much later. It turns out that he had received over 700 bitcoins for it, discovering the bounty years later, just in time to cash in millions of dollars. 

  • $5 Wrench Attack

One of the reasons why crypto investors insist on privacy and using pseudonyms is the possibility of physical attacks. An armed robber with a $5 dollar wrench can access your bitcoin stash in minutes—he just has to beat the private key out of you. The louder you proclaim that you have bitcoin, the larger the target you make yourself, especially with the rising prices of the cryptocurrencies. In addition to maintaining strong privacy, separating the keys geographically with a multi-signature setup is beneficial. Give each key its own security controls in order to further limit the physical access. This is beneficial as it disincentives attackers, since it will take longer to get to the keys and increases their chances of getting caught in the act. It is also riskier for the attacker to kidnap you and ferry you around to different locations without attracting attention. Moreover, with keys stored in different locations, it will be impossible to simultaneously gain access. Having to first coerce you to reveal the locations creates a roadblock in their plans. 

  • Ransomware and extortion

There is an increase in “big game hunting“. Basically, attackers are upping the ante from low-volume campaigns to high-return attacks. Here, instead of spending lots of time on millions of individuals on the internet, they focus their attention to a handful of businesses and organisations. These cyber-threats force companies to fork out millions in ransom due to their operations being disrupted, in order to save themselves from serious losses. Reports of a cyber-attack incident on a firm can be detrimental to the image that customers have about the business, and attract penalties due to breach-of-privacy and data loss. The attackers then use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as the mode of payment of choice, given their anonymity and irreversibly.

  • Misplacing your private key

Lose your private key and you might as well come to terms with the fact that you’ve lost the funds forever. This is due to the sheer impossibility of cracking a private key. It’s such a long shot that it’s basically like counting to infinity— you never really get there. Why is this?

Let’s get back to the power of big numbers. As mentioned, a private key is a 256-bit number. So, the right key is anywhere between 1 and 2^256, which is 115 quattuorvigintillion (a 78-digit number). If we’re being specific about it:

2^256 = 115,792,089,237,316,195,423,570,985,008,687,907,853,269,984,665,640,564,039,457,584,007,913,129,639,936

That’s a really big number: 1.158 x 10^77. For perspective: There is estimated to be 7.5 x 10^18 grains of sand on Earth. In the whole observable universe, there are an estimated 10 x 10^23 stars and 10^78 to 10^82 atoms

Attempting to crack the key would be a wild goose chase, taking more time than is possible to wrap one’s mind around. Let’s draw from a user Coin-1, who crunched numbers on the possibility of cracking one address at a rate of 9 million bitcoin-addresses per second (approximately 223 BTC-addresses per second). Brute-forcing it would take 2160-23 = 2137 seconds—which is over septillion (1024) years, yet the universe itself is only 13.8 billion years old.

As such, it is paramount that you secure your private key. Once it’s lost, it’s irretrievable. Take the story of one James Howells for instance. The Wales IT technician accidentally disposed of his hard drive, which had the private keys to his 7,500 bitcoins. Without a backup of his private keys, he can’t access the cryptocurrency. So today, somewhere out there at a random landfill site, lies a hard disk with over $67 million worth of bitcoin, and he can’t retrieve it. His story is similar to many around the world, with an estimated 20% of all bitcoin having been lost.

  • Market risks

This boils down to the supply/demand cycles of the cryptocurrencies, given their limited nature and manipulation by interested parties. This makes the markets volatile, which is exacerbated by speculative demand—there today, gone tomorrow, and hoarding that affects liquidity. It is common for cryptocurrencies to rise and drop by hundreds and thousands of dollars in a span of hours. 

  • Regulatory and compliance risks

For individual businesses getting into the murky waters of the cryptocurrency world, there will be additional costs when it comes to regulatory risk compliance. There is a keen focus on adherence to anti-money laundering and privacy laws at a business and global level, with numerous checks and balances. Failing to comply with local and state laws will cause the business owners to find themselves getting into the cross-hairs of jurisdictional law enforcement agencies, who will be coming with their own agenda. 

Final thoughts

Cryptocurrency is here to stay. As technology advances and more investments are made in the field, public convenience and acceptance of the asset class with grow. Many of the risks will still be prevalent, hence the need for users to be particularly keen on the security measures they put in place, and the legal requirements that they will need to adhere to as they continue to engage in the handling of the digital assets.

How To Backup Your iPhone – Step-By-Step Guide

Any smartphone can be lost, damaged, or stolen. That’s why backing up your phone is always recommended. 

Don’t worry, it’s fairly easy to backup your iPhone! Just follow our step-by-step guide and get your data protected no matter what happens. 

Below you will find the two most common methods for backup: via iCloud or iTunes. 


iCloud is an included feature on every iPhone (with at least iOS 5). It will back up your iPhone’s data automatically, but first, you have to turn the feature on.

Turning on iCloud Backup:

  1. Connect your device to a Wi-Fi network.
  2. Tap Settings > iCloud > Backup.
  3. Turn on iCloud Backup if it isn’t already turned on.
  4. Make sure you are on a WiFi connection and tap Back Up Now
  5. Check your backup by tapping Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and then select your device. You should see your latest backup listed. 

The first 5GB of files with iCloud Backup are free. If you want more than 5GB of storage in your iCloud backup, you’ll have to pay Apple a monthly fee. 


Backing up via iTunes to your computer is pretty straight forward. To backup using iTunes, you need the following: 

  • A computer (PC or Mac) running iTunes. 
  • Allow your iPhone to communicate with your computer — either through Wi-Fi or by connecting the devices with a USB cord. 

Steps for iTunes Backup

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Connect your iPhone to your computer
  3. Click File > Devices > Backup or click “Backup Up Now” from Summary page. 

For any other smartphone inquiries, check out our blog and or products

How to Restart or Factory Reset your iPhone – Step-by-Step Guide

There are many reasons why you’ll want to return your iOS device to factory settings. Maybe you want to sell or give it to someone, or troubleshoot some issues with your iPhone. Whatever it may be, there are a few methods to reset your iPhone. 

Below you’ll learn about three different types of resetting your iPhone — from a simple reset to the most drastic method, this guide will provide you the exact steps. 

It covers all iPhone models so it doesn’t matter if you own the latest, iPhone 11 Pro, or an iPhone 6S. 

Soft Reset 

This is the easiest method for a quick reboot. You just have to turn your iPhone on and off again to do a soft reset. 

  1. Turn off your phone: Drag the slider across, and your device will turn off. 
  2. Turn on your phone: Press down the power button to turn the phone back on. 

Power Off Slider 

For iPhones released after the original iPhone SE or iPhone 5S

  • Hold down the side button on your phone until the slider appears. 

For iPhone SE, iPhone 5 device or older

  • Hold down the button on the top of the device to get the slider 

Force Restart 

Apple uses the term Force Restart as a more serious restart for your iPhone if your device has frozen or it just won’t turn on. 

No worries, you won’t lose any data by Force Restart. Instead, it’ll just force your device to turn off and on again. 

Method for iPhone 11 series, iPhone XS series, iPhone X, iPhone SE (2020), iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus:

  • Quickly press and release the volume up button, and then do the same with the volume down button. 
  • Now press and hold the power button until the Apple logo appears.

Method for iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

  • Press and hold the volume down button and the wake button on the right-hand side of the phone. 
  • Do this until the Apple logo appears, and then release both buttons.

Method for iPhone 6S series, original iPhone SE and older devices

  • Press and hold down both the wake button (that could be on the right-hand side of the top edge of the device) and the home button below the screen.
  • Do that until the Apple logo appears. 

Once your device has rebooted, you will have completed a Force Restart.

Factory Reset 

Factory Reset is the most extreme method of resetting a device. It’s essentially erasing all your traces on your iPhone and wiping clean everything you did with it — account info, apps, media, and everything else you can think of. 

A factory reset will turn back to the time when your device was released from, well, the factory. 

Backup your iPhone first 

Just in case you change your mind, you’ll want to keep all of that data stored somewhere. 

Backup your data into the iCloud, either thru your iPhone or using a PC or Mac to access iTunes. 

Need to know more? Here’s our blog on How-To Backup Your iPhone 

Now, let’s factory reset your iPhone

The process is fairly simple, especially now you’ve backed up your phone.

  1. Tap Settings > General > Reset
  2. Tap ‘Erase all content and settings’
  3. Enter passcode/Face ID/fingerprint
  4. Tap ‘Erase iPhone/iPad’
  5. Enter Apple ID password
  6. Your iPhone/iPad will now factory reset

For any other smartphone inquiries, check out our blog and or products

5 Ways to Recover Deleted Files on Android Phone

Have you ever lost data from your Android phone?

Data such as SMS text messages, Message Attachments, Call History, Contacts, Photos, Videos, Audio, WhatApp and Documents?

Here’s an outline of the best Android Data Recovery software out there:


It recovers:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Audios
  • WhatsApp – Group and Individual Conversation, Photos, Audios and Videos
  • Text messages
  • Contacts
  • Call Logs
  • Documents – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, HTML, RAR ZIP and more


  1. It recovers data you lost due to, e.g. Accidental Deletion, OS Crash, Without Backup, SD Card Issue, SIM Card not working, Rooting Error, ROM Flashing, and Virus Attack
  2. It supports over 6,000 Phone Models (Android 2.3 to Android 9.0)
  3. It can extract data from broken Android and fix bricked phones
  4. You can recover files from Internal Memory, Android SD Card and SIM Card
  5. It works at high speed, and you can preview the deleted data before recovery
  6. You can backup your Android data onto computer and then restore it completely or selectively

User Guide:

4 simple steps https://support.fonepaw.com/hc/en-us/articles/360023563272

iCare (Free)

It recovers:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Files
  • Music
  • Calendar
  • Chats
  • Notes
  • Reminders
  • Bookmarks
  • Text messages
  • Contacts
  • And more


  1. It’s Free
  2. It recovers data you lost due to, e.g. Deletion/Format/Factory Reset, System Crash/Virus Attack, Denied Accessibility and Unexpected Power Outage
  3. Supports all Android Operating Systems
  4. Supports all Android Devices
  5. Android Internal Memory recovery
  6. Files can be previewed before recovering them
  7. If your device has been physically damaged or data has been overwritten, then it will most likely not be recovered




It recovers:

  • SMS messages
  • Call Logs
  • Gallery photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Audios
  • WhatsApp and Viber chat history
  • Documents


  1. Free Trial
  2. It recovers data you lost due to, e.g. accidental deletion, factory reset, system crash, ROM flash, rooting error, broken or lock screen, virus attack, etc.
  3. Android Internal Memory and memory card recovery
  4. It supports 6,000+ Android Phones and Tablets
  5. Supports Android Operating Systems 2.1 to 9.0

User Guide:

3 simple steps https://www.jihosoft.com/android/android-phone-recovery-user-guide.html


It recovers:

  • SMS Messages
  • Contacts
  • Videos
  • Photos
  • Audios
  • And more


  1. Free Trial
  2. You can preview the files before recovery
  3. High-speed recovery
  4. It makes a copy to your PC
  5. Backs up Messages and contacts in a .txt file format
  6. Backs up Photos as PNG, JPG, GIF, BMP
  7. Backs up Audio and Video as MP3, WMV, MP4, 3GP, MOV, 3G2, SWF, AVI etc.

Dr. Fone

It recovers:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Contacts
  • Messages
  • Call Logs
  • Documents
  • WhatsApp messages – for rooted devices
  • And more


  1. Recovers data from 6,000+ Android Devices. See the list of supported devices https://drfone.wondershare.com/reference/android-data-recovery.html
  2. It recovers data you lost due to, e.g. Accidental Deletion, System Crash, Forgotten Password, SD Card Issue, Rooting Error, ROM Flashing, Damaged, Not Responding, Black Screen and Factory Reset
  3. Can recover from broken Android phones and tablets
  4. Over 50 Million customers
  5. Three recovery modes:
  • From Android Internal Storage
  • From Broken Android
  • From Android SD Card

User Guide:


3 Ways to Remove iCloud Lock without Password

When a person buys an iPhone, they create an Apple ID and Password (Lock Activation details). When done, the iPhone locks itself to this identifier information. This is for security reasons; only they know the Identifier/Lock Activation details.

Scenario: Person buys a USED iPhone that is left locked by the previous owner, that is, the iPhone contains the previous person’s iCloud Activation Lock details – their Apple ID and Password.

Problem: How to unlock it?


Way 1: Ask the previous owner to disable the Activation lock from their end

You must ask he/she to:

  1. Login into icloud.com/find with their Apple ID
  2. Click ‘Find my’ button and select ‘All Devices’ and then select the appropriate iPhone
  3. Click on ‘Erase iPhone/iPad’ and then click ‘Remove from Account’

Way 2: Ask Apple to Remove iCloud Activation Lock for You

You can either Call Apple Support or Visit your local Apple Store. 

If the iPhone is new:

 You will need to show that you own the phone, i.e. proof of purchase showing the serial number of the iPhone and your name.

If the iPhone is second hand:

 If you’ve bought a used iPhone, you will need to show proof that ownership was transferred to you from the seller. You will have to provide the sale transaction receipt/proof of payment.

Way 3: Use Third-Party products?

Be careful when choosing third-parties offering unlock services. Some may try to exploit vulnerabilities in Apple’s operating software. Be careful when choosing.

The following is a list of third-party unlock services:

  • LockWiper
  • iCloudin
  • Official iPhone Unlock
  • Open My iCloud
  • Doulci iCloud Unlocking Tool

Have a read of these services

8 Ways to fix WhatsApp Voice Messages Problem

The following includes ways to fix the WhatsApp Voice message Problem:

  1. Turn up the volume on your phone
    If your WhatsApp messages are not playing check your phone volume.
  2. Restart your Phone
    If your WhatsApp messages are not playing or not recording, try restarting your phone.
  3. Check WhatsApp Microphone Permissions
    If you’re not able to record WhatsApp voice messages, check if your WhatsApp has permission to use the Microphone.
    On Android: Go to Settings > Apps > WhatsApp > Permissions > Microphone (turn on) > Restart your Phone
    On iPhone: Go to Settings > scroll down to WhatsApp > Microphone (turn on) > Restart your iPhone
  4. WhatsApp Update
    Check to see if there is an update for WhatsApp available in the Play Store/App Store. You could also try uninstalling and reinstalling WhatsApp.
  5. Check your Proximity Sensor
    If you can’t play WhatsApp messages, something might be covering the Proximity Sensor on your phone, e.g. your screen protector. The Proximity Sensor is located at the top of your phone. Google ‘proximity sensor’ for an image.
  6. Turn off any other Apps that use the Microphone
    If you are unable to record WhatsApp voice messages, turn off any other Apps on your phone that use the Microphone.
  7. Clear Cache
    The cache is where data is stored so that if a request for the same data is made at any point in the future, it loads it faster.

Try clearing the WhatsApp Cache, as follows:
On Android: Go to Settings > Apps > WhatsApp > Storage > Clear cache > Restart your Phone

How to Recover Data from Broken Android Phone?

Like most other people, you certainly carry an Android smartphone. What if your Android smartphone falls into the water and gets damaged? What if your smartphone breaks into pieces? How do you recover your precious data from a broken Android phone? 

This guide will help you recover data from broken Android phones with ease. The pain of losing your mobile phone might be there, but you can still retain your precious data if you follow one of the methods mentioned below:

Method 1: Using USB Cable

 When your phone screen or your phone breaks, you can use a USB cable to recover data with ease. Even when your phone display and screen might not work, a USB cable will come in handy to recover data.

 To recover data from a broken Android phone using a USB cable, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Attach your USB data cable to your broken Android smartphone. 
  2. Wait until your PC installs the necessary drivers. Your smartphone will now appear as a new driver.
  3. Navigate to My Computer and find your Android smartphone.
  4. Double click on your smartphone name to find all the multimedia files stored in your internal and external memory.
  5. Select all the items that you want to restore. Copy the items and paste them into your desired location.

This method is suitable for recovering multimedia and document files only. You cannot retrieve call logs, text messages, notes, or contacts using this method.

Method 2: Using third-party applications

If you want to recover important call logs, messages, notes, contacts, etc. from a broken Android phone, you can use third-party applications to do so.


Gihosoft Android Data Recovery Free Software is useful to recover data after accidental deletion, virus intrusion, rooting, restoring factory setting, and also in cases of broken Android phones. To recover data from a broken Android phone using Gihosoft, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Download Gihosoft Android File Recovery Software for Windows or Mac. 
  2. Install the software on your desktop.
  3. Launch the software on your desktop by clicking the software icon. An interface pops up on the screen.
  4. Click Next and click Connect your Android phone to PC. Make sure that the USB debugging mode is toggled on.
  5. Your Android phone recognises the Gihosoft program. Click Start on your desktop to search for the files that you want to get back.
  6. Preview the files that you selected to recover. Click Recover to retrieve data from the broken Android phone.


This method works when your Android phone’s touch screen works partially. If the phone’s touchscreen stops working altogether, use the Android Device Manager to unlock your screen remotely and put the mobile into USB debugging mode.

Android Data Extraction

Android Data Extraction is another third-party software specifically designed to recover data from a broken Android phone. Available both on Windows and Mac, it works with over 600 smartphone models. 

To recover data from a broken Android phone using Android Data Extraction software:

  1. Download and install the Android Data Extraction software in your Windows or Mac PC. 
  2. Launch the software by clicking the software’s icon. An interface pops up on the screen.
  3. Connect your damaged smartphone to your PC using a USB data cable.
  4. Select the kind of data that you want to recover. You can choose to recover messages, music, contacts, videos, documents, etc.
  5. Choose the kind of problem that you are facing with your smartphone. Select the black/broken screen option for this case.
  6. Enter your device name and model and click Next.
  7. Reboot your Android phone by pressing the Home, Volume Down, and Power buttons together. The software downloads the necessary recovery package in this duration. This may take some time depending on your internet connection.
  8. Select all the files from the software interface and click Recover. Doing this saves all the recovered data into your PC.

Broken Android Data Recovery

The Broken Android Data Recovery is another application that can help you recover data from a broken Android phone with ease. It helps extract contacts, SMS, call logs, music, photos, videos, and WhatsApp messages from the internal memory or SD card.

To recover data from a broken Android phone using the Broken Android Data Recovery software, follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Download and install the Broken Android Data Recovery software on your Windows or Mac desktop.
  2. Connect your damaged smartphone to your PC using a USB data cable.
  3. Select a proper mode for data recovery. If you have a black/cracked screen or if your screen is unresponsive, click on the Start button.
  4. Input your device name and device model from the drop-down menu. 
  5. Enter the download mode by following the on-screen prompts. A repair package is downloaded to your phone so that the existing data can be scanned out.
  6. Press and hold the Volume Down, Home and Power buttons at the same time to reboot your phone. Hold the Volume Up button to enter the download mode. In the download mode, the program scans your device for data. An interface appears on the screen.
  7. Choose the kind of data to extract and click Recover. The extracted data will be saved into your desktop.